Looks From Books post I did on Saturday. EDIT: You can also listen to a sample of the audio book.
Book: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Summary: A fairy-tale retelling that imagines Cinderella as a cyborg in New Beijing. There is an evil step-mother, a plague, a prince, and the very real threat of the Lunar queen trying to take over Earth. As a cyborg, Cinder is considered a second class citizen, but she still finds herself as a player in the middle of a national crisis.
Characters: I love these characters. Cinder is amazing. She is strong, but not abrasive. She holds herself together even when she is worn down by her step-mother's constant abuse. She was completely insecure about being a cyborg, but she didn't fall into a fit of self-pity that made her annoying. She was flawed and accepted those flaws, but it was still completely believable for her to pretend to be a normal girl when the prince started flirting with her.
Prince Kai was way more than a love interest. His role is integral to the plot and would have been even if he wasn't falling so hard for Cinder. He had so much going on in his own life: his father is dying and he is soon to become Emperor, a position of responsibility he does not feel ready for. He managed to be both young and completely charming while flirting with Cinder, but grown up with his advisor. It never felt as if he was an inconsistent character, it made him feel real. He was Kai in both scene and it broke my heart a little having to watch this kid with hair in his face grow up so quickly.
I also enjoyed the other characters. Cinder's sister Peony was sweet. Adri (step-mother) and Pearl (step-sister) were love-to-hate characters, but I also understood where all their hate and anger was coming from. Dr. Erland... loved him. I hope we see these characters again in future books!
Plot/Pacing/Structure: This story was way more involved than I expected. Part of that is I read blogger reactions instead of the cover copy, so I really had no idea what I was getting into when I started reading. There was so much going on, but it all came together. I was slightly confused by part of the scene at the ball (I actually went back and reread it twice), but it didn't affect my enjoyment.
There were several twists I didn't see coming and one big reveal that I guessed at the very beginning. However, knowing it was going to happen made reading the rest of the book that much more fun. When we finally hear the information, I was so excited, because... finally!
Moments I Loved: The scenes between Kai and Cinder at the marketplace. We get to see who Kai could be if he wasn't a Prince and didn't need to grow up in order to lead his country. Also, they are adorable together. And the end! It wasn't so much a cliffhanger as a call to adventure and I am ready to go on an adventure!
WTF Moments: All of the scenes with the Lunar Queen creeped me out (in a good way). She was horrible. And the scenes where Dr. Erland experimented on cyborgs... it was horrifying that he could do his experiments, but still be likeable (he was totally likeable).
Overall: I'm officially in love with this book. This is one of the strongest debuts I've read in a long time and I'm excited for every book in this series even though they are all still a long way off. I took it out of the library, but I plan on buying it and will definitely be purchasing future books on their release days.
Reading Challenges: This book counts toward the following challenges: 387 pages towards the 15,000 page challenge, Science Fiction for the Eclectic Reader, and Support Your Local Library. Track all my progress on my 2012 Challenges page.